Well hello! It’s been a while since I have posted, thanks to my sweet little bundle of joy keeping me very busy. I hope you find this post to be encouraging! It’s certainly a big ole’ welcome-back-to-the-blogging-world kind of post!
Over the past several months I have been noticing a theme in regards to sharing my story. Different avenues have popped up encouraging it. My Pastor has spoken on the power of a personal story several times throughout the year already. I have also been reading a book by Laura Story, When God Doesn’t Fix It, and she states, “He wants me to tell my story because my story points to Jesus. My life is but one minuscule, very broken story in His much larger story of redemption” (p186).
I have to admit, sharing my story is such a daunting ask and not just something I can sum up into a few paragraphs. I never felt like I had much to share, until this thing called parenthood happened. Looking back on my life, I feel like I have seen the Lord move in different areas at different times. I am 100% positive that all of these stories in my life will pull together to show a big picture, but to be honest, I don’t see it yet. I may never see the big picture until eternity and you know what, that’s ok. A couple of months ago I posted a very vulnerable snip-it from my past. It was one of great transition and divine timing. Certainly a defining moment. If you missed it, you can read it here. But for now, here is a glimpse at a part of my story where God came through and changed my heart to look more towards Him…again.
Several years after my drive down the PCH, I was home in NC. This is where I met the love of my life. We were engaged and planning our wedding. We both had these two fantastic careers. God worked supernaturally through both of our careers and now God was asking me to give mine up. I wrestled with God asking Him, “Why would you give this to me only to take it away?!” My heart felt torn, my dreams felt squashed.
Let me back up and provide some context around why I wrestled so much with this. When I graduated from Meredith College in 2007, I was on the road to professional success. I was the only one selected from my class for a very desirable, year long, sales training program in a large tech company in RTP, NC. This training program pulled together only 90 young professionals, fresh out of college from around the U.S., and paid us to learn everything about this company and its products from the ground up. The intention was to send us off to be successful sales people and it worked. It was hands down the most amazing, most challenging, most rewarding professional and financial decision I have ever made up until that point in my life. Twenty two years old and already living the dream. It’s been ten years since that program, and I still have amazing friendships from the experience. This program is what propelled my move to Southern California. Life was good. No it was great! Albeit, Jesus was hanging out on the back burner, so it was “great” in the worlds eyes and at that point in time, my eyes too. When I moved back home to NC, I continued my sales role virtually. At that point money was my motivator and I was moving right along. I met Nick, we dated, and then he asked me to marry him. The day after he proposed I was on a plane to Las Vegas for a sales meeting. While there, one of the managers I worked for asked me if I would be willing to move to NYC to take on an outside sales role for his team. I instantly flashed my ring and said, “I just got engaged and his job is in NC and that is where we plan on staying.” The words jumped out of my mouth. Right then and there, I knew my definition of success instantly turned on its head and this is where my internal struggle began.
I struggled with God on the thought of giving up my career throughout our entire engagement. God was calling me to let it all go. However, I wanted to compromise and move at my own pace. Therefore, I looked for a different position inside the company. Oh boy, did I find one and it was awesome! It was a position in University Recruiting. Before starting this new role, Nick and I had a nice long honeymoon and when we got back I hit the ground running. I thought God put this role in my lap. The further along I got, the more unsettling life began to feel. I literally thought I was having a heart attack from how much stress I put myself under. So much so, I convinced Nick to take me to the doctor to have an EKG. Everything turned out to be fine physically, but my symptoms would not go away. Day in and day out there was a constant weight sitting on my chest. It felt like 20+ lbs of painful heaviness that would not dissipate no matter how hard I tried. I would even try to lift the skin off my sternum to see if the pressure would go away. It didn’t and in those instances, I had a very small glimpse into what it felt like for people who have constant anxiety and stress, who cannot get the pain to go away, and have nothing else to turn to but drugs, alcohol, or even suicide. I had Jesus (so I thought) and I was still suffering! Because of the repeated chest pain symptoms, my doctor prescribed Xanax. I told her it would just be a bandaid and she asked if I knew what was causing the pain. I informed her it was my job. She replied with, “If you aren’t going to quit and don’t want to feel pain, then take this.” Wow. Her words hit me like baseball bat to the head, but you know what, I still didn’t quit.
I was in constant arguments with God, asking Him why he would take this away from me!? I mean, I knew I wouldn’t work once we had kids, but that wasn’t happening anytime soon and in my head I thought I would bring no value to our marriage without an earning. During this dark time, my supportive small group surrounded me with prayers and encouragement. These girls were a huge lifeline during this struggle and I have great friendships because of it.
Thankfully, Nick was a constant during this time. He really challenged me to let it all go (he has a unique perspective on life because of a health crisis he endured at age 18). He noticed immediately my internal struggle was hurting our new marriage. When the job topic would come up and he would encourage me to let it go, I’d tell him I can’t let it go, God gave it to me. Nick would reiterate God gave you this marriage too. After several conversations with Nick and God…AGAIN (you can see the theme here of me not giving up easily) I decided it was time. After almost a year of wrestling with God I knew I had to choose. Choose to trust God and let it go or choose to keep holding on out of selfishness, stubbornness, and control to something that caused physical pain, spiritual separation, and strain on my new marriage. So I took the plunge into the great unknown. January 3rd, 2014 was my last day in the corporate world. When I said goodbye, it felt like I said goodbye to my identity. At the time, my identity revolved around income, security, safety, and economic status and now it was all gone.
When this part of my journey is actually laid out in words I can’t help but laugh because all throughout it, “I” is everywhere and surrendering and pressing into God is no where. I see how many misconceptions I had about God and His plan for my life. I wish I could sit here and tell you I have all of the answers, that I have a new career path, that I have no more questions about the specificity of the role I am to be playing in building His kingdom, but I don’t. Three plus years and I am still on the journey, His journey, to learning what everything will look like and how my talents will be used for His glory. The further away time goes from that decision in 2014, the more God has shaped and molded me into what He wants and it’s certainly not to the worlds standards. The idea of wealth is now based around how I can serve God and how I can love people well. It’s certainly not based on dollar signs. I don’t want to just be happy anymore, I pray for a deep seeded joy. I read once that happiness is based on happenings and it is so true! Happiness can fluctuate at the drop of a dime! The old sales adage of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), has dissipated. I now want to know what my life can do for God to bring glory to His name.
God allowed me to experience a corporate career and allowed me to walk through some pretty tough stuff, I have no doubt about it. Just like everything else though, there are seasons. That part of my life was only for a season. There were almost three years between leaving and having Ethan. Three years where the Lord had to break me down to build me back up. It hurt, it was challenging, it was also rewarding. I had the opportunity to try anything and everything I have ever wanted to do. From coaching high school volleyball, to taking an upholstery class, earning a Pilates teaching certification, flipping two houses, serving in multiple capacities at church so I could find my niche, rebuilding my spiritual life, and building a strong marriage with Nick. God graced me with that time, so I could be ready (although you are never “ready”) to be a parent and I am so thankful He did! I had saturated myself into the world so much and yet He was so good to pick me up out of the filth, wipe me clean, and give me a fresh start. As I mentioned, I am still on my journey. The Lord has put opportunities in my life to walk into the strengths and desires only He has placed in my heart and I have gladly said yes. However, this time around my perspective is different. I walk into these situations with open and lifted hands. Hands that say, “Here God, you gave this to me and I don’t want to hold on too tight because it isn’t mine to control.” He gifted me with talents and I want to make sure that when I step into using them, it will bring glory to His name and not my own.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts, declares the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 55:9
*When God Doesn’t Fix It is one of the best books I have ever read. I am almost finished and cannot wait to write a summary and share it with you. In the mean time, if you are looking for a good summer read, look no further! I have the link to Amazon in the title shown above.*
Photo Credit: Lauren Jackson Photography, Charlotte, NC